ATKINS, Ark. — Arkansas is known for its rice, after all the Natural State is the top rice producing state in the country.
For the first time in history –our rice is making its way to China –thanks to one Arkansas family and their farm.
The owners said their goal was always to go nationwide but they never imagined they would reach all the way to China.
“They reached out to us, last fall and it was just a discussion that development between us and them and we didn’t know if it would materialize or not and over the winter it did,” owner, Tim Ralston said.
After receiving an email, Tim and Robin Ralston of Ralston Family Farms sent the first batch of rice to be exported from Arkansas to China. This all happened in July.
“It’s a blessing to be able to have this with China and we hope it’s not just beneficial for our family but for all of Arkansans who farm rice,” owner, Robin Ralston said.
Wednesday they gave us a look at their farm and line of production.
“It’s not very many places you can go and stand in one spot,” Tim said. “As you see are here and see the field of production, the storage, the milling and the distribution.”
The family owned and operated business started growing their rice in 2018 and things quickly picked up from there.
When asked what makes their rice different, Robin explained how detailed their family operation is.
“So every carton that you pick up we can tell you exactly what field it came out of, when it was harvested, what those farming practices were,” Robin Ralston said.
Their family started in Scotland but has been in Atkins, Arkansas since 1999.
“The Ralston family has been farming for over 10 generations actually that’s all they’ve ever done and they continue to do that now,” Robin said.
On top of doing what they love, the Ralstons said they really enjoy having their entire family involved.
“It’s a different atmosphere than going to a 9-5 job where you clock in and clock out,” Robin said. “There’s a lot of work that has to be done but we’re just very blessed that we are able to do it.”
The family said they are working on other shipments for China to meet the demand. They also hope that in the future they can provide rice to more European counties as well.